Why Americans should take a gap year! by:Bruce Haxton
In the UK, finishing school and taking a gap year go together as naturally as teaand biscuits and rain during summer! In fact a national survey found that nearly three quarters of youngsters wanted to take a gap year, yet in the U.S, that's the same percentage of people who don't own passports! While some American students are catching on to the idea of a gap year, they are still having a hard time convincing everyone.
Americans students are becoming increasingly frustrated at having to choose colleges early and then start straightaway in the September following high school graduation. Indeed, once college is done with most people go straight in to the world of work, taking a gap year will give you the opportunity for a change before all of that responsibility!
Take a break from academic life
William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at Harvard, in an article called 'Time-out or burn-out for the next generation' advocates students take time out before attending college. "We believe that students use their opportunities in college much more effectively if they have had a chance to get some perspective and get away", he says. Currently only around 50 of the 1600 incoming freshmen exercise their option to defer their first year.
Improve your CV
Employers report that young people who have taken a gap year before finishing school are better qualified and more mature than their peers. While sitting on a beach for 6 months may not furnish you with useful experience, if you use your gap year to volunteer or find work placements overseas you can acquire valuable new skills. You can return not only having had a great experience but also with a CV that stands out from the crowd. For example, gappers can use their time to learn to teach, help out on community projects or even educate themselves in how to care for wildlife.
A gap year can not only add a very attractive paragraph to your CV, it also offers you the chance for great personal development. A good gap year can make you a more confident, flexible and resourceful human being. Taking a break can lead to an even greater appreciation for education, along with the skills to make the most of it. Being successful isn't just about getting the grades; it's about having the mental strength and maturity to tackle challenges with confidence.
Broaden your knowledge
The newspaper USA Today also cited a study which demonstrated that most teenagers couldn't name specific Middle Eastern countries. Even if you're better informed than that, gap years offer the opportunity to widen an area of knowledge that will clearly put you ahead of the crowd. If you want to do even more with your gap year, try setting goals for your year like learning a language or gaining some real world experience.
Make a difference
Gap years offer the opportunity to not only change your own life; you can also use them to benefit people around the world. Gappers can choose from volunteer projects all over the place in areas like wildlife preservation, community work, sports coaching and teaching. Reminding yourself that you can make a difference in the world should prove a refreshing experience and motivate you to achieve things in your own life.
About the author
I'm totally passionate about travel, it's been my life and work for a good few years! My travel adventures haven't really been about seeing monuments etc but far more about people and getting off the beaten track. Even in a country that has large numbers of tourists you can still find hidden places if you look hard enough, living and working in country gives you such a different perception of it and more of a chance to absorb the local culture. I would like to share my many experiences and offer a little advice if I can to fellow travellers or anyone who is just about to set off on a life changing trip!